National School Uniforms: Hong Kong

Figure 1.--Here we see a Chinese school in British colonial Hong Kong in 1906. The boys are leaving school at the end of the day. This photograph appeared in the Cassell's big book "The Kings Empire" during the reign of King Edward VII. The boys wear traditionally styled uniforms.

Being a former British Colony, school uniforms are modelled very much along the lines of British schools, however it must the said the Chinese are noted for their liking of uniforms also. Almost without exception all boys of primary/junior school age wear shorts for school. Most schools have two uniforms, summer and winter uniforms.

School System

The basic otganization of Hong Kong schools is a standard primary/secondary approach. Primary school included primary 1 to 6. Secondary schools are also called colleges which does not mean a small university as in America. The secondary grades are forms 1 to 5. Some schools also have a form 6. Pupils sit for Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE). Those who get high marks on the HKCEE can take A-level courses. At the end of A-level courses are Hong Kong Advanced Level Examinations (HKALE). British schools in Hong Kong follow the modern British system, with GCSE and GCE A-levels instead of HKCEE and HKALE.


Hong Kong was a former British Colony. As a resuly, school uniforms are modelled very much along the lines of British schools. One observer adds that it must the said the Chinese are also noted for their liking of uniforms. Almost without exception all boys of primary/junior school age wear shorts for school.


Here we see a traditional Chinese school in Hon Kong during 1906. The boys wear traditionally styled uniforms (figure 1). A Hong Kong student reported in 2001, "In Hong Kong, school uniform was universal when I was last there three years ago: all schools had it. The basic garment for boys in local schools was a shirt, a tie, and trousers...long sleeve shirts and trousers in winter, short sleeve shirts and shorts in summer. The basic garment for girls depends. Some schools had pinafores, some had shirts and skirts, some required ties for girls, some did not. For overgarment, some uniforms had jumpers, others cardigans, and a few older schools had blazers. I don't think it has changed much in the three years since I left HK. But when my dad was little, all boys in HK wore blazers, shorts, and knee socks to school so gradual change is still possible in the future. Surprisingly in modern-day Hong Kong, the British private schools' uniforms are less formal than most local schools'. Pupils there don't wear ties."

Seasonal Uniforms

Most modern Hong Kong schools have two uniforms, different outfits for summer and winter.


Weather is still rather warm compared with Europe although Jan/Feb/March can be on the chilly side, accordingly almost all clothes are of a lighter weight than commonly worn in Europe.
Short panrs: Almost all junior schools have grey shorts, although a few are blue and an even smaller number brown. All are unlined (due to the heat) and almost certainly of poly/viscose. A very few traditional Chinese families stick to the China made wool/worsted shorts, usually made by Cockatoo of Shangai, who have pretty much a monopoly on Chinese made schoolwear. As with those of previous generations in the United Kingdom (and no doubt elsewhere!), these stretch when worn and very quickly loose their shape and become very baggy. Being unlined doesn't help them retain their shape. For this reason alone, poly/viscose are popularly worn.
Blazers: Blazers are almost without exception wool/worsted due their wearing qualities and attractive cost (at least compared with the United Kimgdom). Mostly lined (surprising with the heat) and always badged. No Hong Kong fails to show its badge. If no blazer is worn it is almost without exception visible on shirts and/or ties. On shirts, embroidered patches are normally sewn onto the chest pocket.
Jumpers: Jumpers are rarely worn overall, most that are are sleeveless and normally Chinese made in wool.
Junior blazers: Very junior boys sometimes wear a 'junior blazer'. There is almost certainly a proper name for them but I've never heard one. These are basic unlined blazers that button at the front, but without a collar, the shirt collar showing over the top of the jacket. Some parents choose these cheaper options rather than pay for full blazers when their junior grows rather quickly!
Shirts: Shirts are polyester/cotton white almost without exception, with badge on pocket in many cases. Blue next popular colour.
Kneesocks: Most junior boys just wear plain grey/plain top kneesocks. Usually grey. Only a small percentage of schools have additional stripes on a turnover; only two that I know have a solid top.


Hong Kong is oppressively humid at times, so summer clothes are almost all of a lighter material. Many schools have a summer uniform of white cotton trousers or shorts and white socks, either ankle or knee, along with the usual white shirt, which is worn open necked. White sneakers/plimsolls are normally worn with this uniform. Those that still wear grey viscose shorts are of an even lighter summer weight, making them very light indeed. As elsewhere, most boys over 12 prefer to wear long trousers rather than the shorts, but if it gets very hot and humid continuously over a period of days, then some older boys revert to shorts.

Additional Information


Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[The 1880s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s]

Related Style Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Long pants suits] [Short pants suits] [Socks] [Eton suits] [Jacket and trousers] [Blazer] [School sandals]

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Created: January 6, 2000
Last updated: 8:28 PM 8/22/20040